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quantified self

05 Feb

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Recent reading (7 links for Feb 5)

February 5, 2013 | By |

San Telmo street art

Irregularly, I post noteworthy articles I recently read. Enjoy!

 

Kickstarting: A Wi-Fi-Enabled Lamp That Lets You Say Goodnight Across The Globe: FastCo’s take on the Good Night Lamp, a series of connected lamps that helps you send social signals in more ambient way. I’m a big fan of both the product and the team, so I recommend you have a closer look. (Just noticed I first blogged about this in 2007. Time flies!) (link);

 

Top 10 Lessons Learned at Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Biohacking Conference: A report from the front line of the biohacking and quantified self community. (link)

 

Shooters: How Video Games Fund Arms Manufacturers: How video games, through licensing fees, help funding arms producers. A very scary thought. – by Simon Parkin (link)

 

The World is Getting Better. Quickly.: On a more uplifting note, turns out that overall we’re making quite good progress on a global scale towards bettering life conditions for everyone. Some highlights from Bill Gates’ report on the progress of his foundation and their goals. (link)

 

Dell goes private in $24.4 billion deal, including $2 billion loan from Microsoft: Dell buys back the company shares, ridding itself of the pressure of quarterly earnings reports to shareholders. Impressive, and also something that can serve us as a reminder to always keep thinking about incentives we create for ourselves and our companies. – by Nathan Ingraham (link)

 

Q: “How much does an app cost?” A: “About as much as a car.”: Neat metaphor-slash-guideline: How much does an app cost? It costs about as much as a car does, it just depends on what you want. “I just want an app and I want it to work” = 1994 Honda Civic = $1-5K. You just want a simple app. Nothing fancy, and you don’t really care who works on it. (link)

 

EU-Flaggschiff-Initiative: Forscher erhalten Milliardenförderung: Quick overview of the projects that got the EU’s 1b Euro funding for scientific research. How awesome are the two projects that won? Very. How awesome are the ones that didn’t get the funding? Also: very. I’m all for institutional funding of science. (link)

17 Dec

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Interview: Apotheken Umschau / Volle Kontrolle über mich

December 17, 2012 | By |

Apotheken Umschau

File under “unexpected media appearance”: A few weeks ago I was interviewed about personal analytics and the Quantified Self by a good old institution in the German media sphere, Apotheken Umschau. It’s one of those magazines that fly very much under the radar, yet have an incredible circulation of about 10 million printed copies (and 20 million reach): You can pick them up for free at any pharmacy, so they’re pretty much everywhere even if you’ll never see anyone reading it. Mysterious, eh?

Anyway, long story short, along with other familiar faces like Florian Schumacher of the QS Munich meetups I got to give my two cents on personal analytics. As the magazine is aimed squarely at a mainstream, non-technical audience, it’s all pretty much on the surface of things (which also explains how I turned into what looks like a stock photo), but it’s these opportunities to spread the word outside our bubble and immediate networks that I always enjoy – this is where stuff gets applied to real lives, after all.

So if you live in Germany, for two weeks you can pick up a copy for free at the pharmacy near you.

11 Sep

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Interview in Fit for Fun

September 11, 2012 | By |

So I was interviewed for this.

 

So Fit for Fun interviewed me about self tracking & body tracking. The interview is in the recent print edition, but doesn’t seem to be available online in full (yet?). The editors made self tracking out to be a mainstream trend, and took the “freak” angle out of it, which I appreciate. Still too many main stream outlets out there that label people as somehow freakish or a-normal for regularly checking up on their running habits or pulse.

For more depth than a short interview, I’d recommend you jump over to the good old Quantified Self series we published at Third Wave a little while back.

 

ps. I try to keep an up-to-date list of media appearances here.

05 May

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Nike+ First Impressions

May 5, 2012 | By |

So I got around to testing out the Nike+ Fuelband for a few days. Instead of a full on review, some quick, off the cuff impressions, thoughts & notes as long as they’re fresh:

The Fuelband is smooth, feels nicely heavy and well made. The rubbery surface is comfortable to wear, if maybe a bit too clunky, especially if you work on a computer a lot.

The display lights up only if you press a button, so usually you just walk around with a black wristband. The display is a set of LEDs and can show time, steps, calories as well as Nike’s own “currency”, the so-called “Fuel”. Below the display you see a status bar that starts with a single red dot and grows with your activity, going from yellow to green until you reach your daily goal. It’s fairly subtle and works intuitively. Having a watch on the wrist was a pleasant change as I usually don’t wear watches much.

Taking this for a spin. #fuelband Starting out, the Fuelband shows just a red marker: Go get a move on!

The battery lasts for a few days before you have to recharge via USB. Data upload works through USB, too, so it’s simple but not terribly elegant.

To set your goals, you enter your desired activity levels through an app on your desktop or iPhone (I use Android, so no mobile app for me). The default “normal” active day is set so low that I reached it even though only starting my test at 4pm the first day. Ramping it up to “active” days helps a bit, so you actually have to at least walk a bit during the day to meet the goals. I assume if you commute by car and work at a desk all day, it might be a challenge. If you’re somewhat active anyway it feels like you have to set the goals somewhat inflationary. Or maybe I just happened to have a particularly active week.

Over time, you can gather a number of stats, accessible through the Fuel app. Examples for the kind of stats you get, besides some graphs to indicate the overall development, would be Best Month, Best Wednesday, Average Activity etc. It’s intuitive, but doesn’t go very deep it seems.

I expect this will change if the API ever really opens up and more developers can play around with it. If you could use alternative interfaces like the Pebble for example that might become more interesting. As it stands, it feels a bit… how do I phrase it… American? I know this doesn’t quite capture it, but it’s this very Nike-ish tonality that I always personally find a bit off-turning. Then again, it’s their product and it’s a fitness product, so I guess that’s alright.

Right now it’s still in the novelty phase, and several people actually approached me at a restaurant to ask about it.

So in short: It’s a smooth, well produced gadget. Having tested it for about a week, it feels like the novelty and effect are wearing off already. I caught myself not even putting it on anymore after 4-5 days. The API might change that once it’s there, if it’s ever going to really open up.